Artillery: May 18, 2001


The U.S. Army's program to build a new self-propelled artillery weapon (the Crusader) has run up against unfavorable technical and historical trends. The army has not gotten a new self-propelled gun since the M-109 was introduced in early 1960s. The M-109 was in turn based on all the battlefield experience gained from the first generation self-propelled guns during World War II. The main reason for replacing the (now much upgraded) M-109 was, well, there really wasn't any compelling reason for a new gun. In fact, the M-109 had lost a lot of work to the 1980s era MLRS. The rockets fired by the MLRS had a longer range, were more destructive and just as accurate as the M-109s 155mm cannon. But the artillery community has been agitating for a new gun for some time. The cannoneers had a large wish list and during the 1980s there was so much money sloshing around the Pentagon that the Crusader project was born. The wish list was long, containing nifty stuff like liquid propellant, heat tolerant barrels, lots of computers and an armored resupply vehicle. Typical peacetime excess, and many of the new tech features didn't work out and were dropped. Moreover, the Crusader was designed with the Cold War in mind. This led to a very heavy system. This ran afoul of the army's late 1990s program to get light and fly quickly to far off hot spots. So Crusader was redesigned to remove over ten tons of unwanted weight. But many officers, and a lot more civilian officials, want Crusader dead. Better to spend the money on more self-propelled mortars and variants on the MLRS (lighter versions, nifty new rocket designs.) But once defense projects get to a certain point (like where the Crusader now is), they become difficult to kill. Which is why we will enter our next war with the venerable M-109.


Article Archive

Artillery: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close